Canada


Overview

Canada travel guide, including map of Canada, top Canadian travel experiences, tips for travel in Canada, plus where to see whales and wildlife in Canada

From St John’s, Newfoundland in the east, Vancouver Island in the west and north, way north to places like Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada covers nearly 10 million square kilometers.

Travel in Canada – there’s enough space to do pretty much whatever you like. Enjoy awesome scenery, see abundant wildlife like moose, polar and grizzly bears, humpback whales and, um, groundhogs, raccoons and beavers, experience world-class outdoor adventure, sample the sophisticated cultural scene in Canada’s cities… the hardest part of travel in Canada is deciding what to do first. 

Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean, across ten provinces (from east to west: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia) and three territories (Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon) – each with their own unique culture and landscape.

G’day, eh?

Canadians themselves are nice, too. Everywhere you go in Canada, you’ll experience cultural reverberations – whether it is standing beside the Westminster inspired Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, on the Plains of Abraham battlefield in Quebec City, or in the very nearly Irish fishing communities in Newfoundland.

Then turn everything you know about Canada on its head by taking part in the jingly-jangly magnificence of an Native Canadian pow-wow – where visitors from all over the world are invited to participate in the inter-tribal dance.

Wanderlust tips

A ‘touque ‘is a warm, wolly hat – essential fashion item in winter.

‘Eh’ is a colloquial expression Canadians tag onto the end of most sentences and a unavoidable souvenir that will slip into your own speech like a comfortable slipper after a few conversations with the locals.

Further Reading

Canada: vital Stats

  • Capital: Ottawa
  • Population: 33 million
  • Languages: Two official languages, English and French
  • Time: Ottawa  (Eastern Time Zone) GMT -5 (GMT -4)
    There are six time zones in Canada – from east to west. Daylight Savings Time (DST) runs from March – November.
  • Newfoundland GMT -3.30 (DST GMT -2.30)
  • Atlantic GMT -4 (DST GMT -3)
  • Eastern GMT -5 (DST GMT -4)
  • Central GMT -6  (DST GMT -5 )
  • Mountain GMT -7 (DST GMT -6) 
  • Pacific GMT -8 (DST GMT -7)
  • International dialing code: +1
  • Voltage guide: 220 AC, 50 Hz
  • Visas: Canada visa
  • Money: Canadian dollar $CDN. ATMs are readily available. Credit cards are widely accepted.  Tipping (15%) is generally expected in restaurants and for bar service. It never hurts to tip people in the service industry with a loonie ($1 coin) or a toonie ($2 coin) – they'll appreciate it. Hairdressers, taxi drivers and barbers may expect 10% for good service. 
  • Canada travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Canada tourist board: Canada - Keep exploring

When to go to Canada

Canada has four strong seasons and although it may occasionally snow in summer and you may find blooming tulips in January, spring, summer, autumn and winter all have their unique charms.

International airport

International airports are dotted around Canada.  Toronto is the major hub for international flights. Toronto (YYZ)

Getting around

Generally, public transportation in Canada is excellent in cities and urban areas.

You drive on the right-hand side of the road in Canada, and whilst roads are excellent, drivers should be prepared to drive in snow if traveling in the winter. In winter,  cars are equipped with winter tyres and roads are gritted and salted.

Taxis are readily available in city centres. Via Rail is Canada’s national rail service , which offers journeys between  cities and villages, as well as multi-day sleeper journeys, including spectacular, glass-roofed carriage trips through the Rocky Mountains

Long-distance bus companies are prolific and an inexpensive way to travel in Canada. Several consecutive days on a bus remains a rite of passage for travelers and locals alike.

Accommodation

The standard of accommodation in Canada is generally good. Hostels are prolific in cities, B&Bs dot the countryside and roadside motels are something worth try (if only once).

Camping – and all variations of – are national pastimes in Canada. A network of National Parks have created an outdoor playground covering an area bigger than the United Kingdom. Whether you plan to hike-in, portage-to,  car, caravan,  canoe camp,  or just sit on a case of beer beside a tent,  Parks  Canada will help you get it done.

Food & drink

There isn’t much that can’t be grown, fished, farmed or shot in Canada, so make it part of the journey to eat locally and seasonally. Food in each region is a product of its landscape and history – it's well worth tucking in.

Fast-food giant Tim Hortons specializes in coffee, doughnuts and sandwiches – manage to order ‘an extra-large double-double and a snak-pack of Timbits’ from the drive-thru window and you’re practically a citizen.

Vegetarians are well catered for in Canada.

Beer is popular in Canada and is an essential part of watching hockey (winter) and attending barbeques (summer). Labatt 50 and Molson Export are traditional, old-man beers, while mid-size and microbreweries like Moosehead, Sleemans and Big Rock and Steam Whsitle are producing some truly fine brews.

Canadia is the leading producer of icewine, a sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes. Vineyards in Ontario’s Niagara region and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley are producing excellent chardonnay, pinot noir and Riesling wines.

Health & safety

Canada has excellent free national health care services for Canadians – anyone else will have to pay through the nose should they need medical services. Travel health insurance is therefore essential, or you may end up with a shocker of a bill.

Water is generally fine to drink throughout Canada, although drinking directly from lakes or rivers can result in Giardiasis, a parasitic infection from water contaminated with animal feces – known locally as ‘beaver fever’. Giardiasis is easily treated with antibiotics.